David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee headlined Wizard World Comic Con Cleveland this weekend and took the time to sit with fans to talk about getting into acting and their experiences on Gotham.
Below is some of the Q & A from the panel:
Q: How did you guys start out in acting?
David Mazouz: Well I started taking classes when I was around six, and I did it more as a hobby than anything else. It was fun to do every Sunday, and my sister wanted to do it. I did that for three years and then I did a commercial workshop, and at the end there was an opportunity for everyone to write their own commercial. I was about seven at the time, so my mom helped me write it as I was incapable of writing anything. It was an Oreo commercial. That landed me an audition at my commercial agent who is still my current commercial agent. I was doing commercials and auditions for about a year, and then he referred me to my theatrical agent. One thing led to another, and I was doing guest stars on The Office and Criminal Minds. Then I did a show for two years on FOX with Kiefer Sutherland called Touch, and after a few more movies when I was twelve, I booked Gotham
Sean Pertwee: I grew up in a theatrical family. My family had been in the business for about 200 years believe it or not. I first got interested in genre when I went to a tough school called Teddington Boys’ School and there was a guy named Hawthorne that change my life actually. He was an extraordinary man, and he made me play several women when I was only about 12 in this very tough school. I got my very first review that said, “Sean Pertwee plays a very appealing little nurse.” I was in theatre for about 6 or 7 years and got into the Royal Shakespeare Company, and it’s strange how your career meanders and you don’t turn out how you think you’re going to. I was doing classical work and I never really saw myself as a classical actor particularly. I was over here doing Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, and I got sent this generic piece about a guy going into a pub and bashing someone in the throat or something. It was very weird and I said, “What character is this?” because it was written in the most perfect East End dialogue and they said, “That’s Alfred Pennyworth.” So that was kind of weird and that was Danny’s [Cannon] take on it.
Q: Had you been fans of comics in the past?
David Mazouz: Batman was always my favorite superhero from the moment I was old enough to have a favorite superhero. I was never really into comics before I booked the role, but as soon as I did, I wanted to do as much research as I could. I wanted to gain all the possible knowledge on this role. I bought a Batman encyclopedia that had a page on all the characters, the rogues, the batcave, the suit, and whenever there’s a character in the script I don’t know, I still research it in there. Now I like to consider myself a huge fanboy. I wasn’t before, but this show made me into one. It started as research and now I read comics daily because I love it.
Q: How does it feel to be reinventing these characters and creating a whole new world because there’s a lot of things that happen in the show that don’t in the comic books and vice versa.
David Mazouz: Yea absolutely, and I read the comics too so there’s a part of me that goes “whoa – wait a second” whenever they change something, but at the same time, the larger part of me really likes that because if we are following what we’ve seen before in other incarnations of the character then you can forget about the creativity level because it’s going to be boring. We already know what’s going to happen before it does and one of the great things about this show is that we don’t know what’s going to happen. We are killing off characters that are supposed to be alive 20 years later, and we are having characters do things that other characters are supposed to do. That makes it interesting and makes you want to keep watching because you don’t know what’s going to happen, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. That being said we aren’t going to go completely off course and do something crazy like kill Bruce Wayne – please.
Q: David, your character is just beginning to get into fight scenes and more physical scenes, so how is that for you?
David Mazouz: Well, we have a great Emmy-nominated stunt department, and they really make me look like I know what I’m doing because I don’t. If one of you [fans] tried to attack me on the street, I’d just fall to the floor and start crying. I’d have no idea how to fight back, but you wouldn’t know that from watching the show because it looks like I know how to beat somebody up. That’s all due to them and I’m very grateful for that. Poses I can do. I can pose all you want.
Q: How was shooting the final Batman pose at the end of season 3?
David Mazouz: I was on this big platform like a stage with a green screen all around me, so it wasn’t as epic as it turned out to be, but our Emmy-winning visual effects team did that shot, and they won for that last shot. It was so cool because it was all CGI. They made it look like one continual shot and it was entirely visual effects for about 30-40 seconds which was a really big deal, and they worked really hard on that. It really paid off because that scene gave me chills. The hardest thing for me was taking my mask off.
Q: How long before an episode do you get a script and know where they arc is going?
David Mazouz: We usually don’t know what is happening on a large scale. Sometimes our producers will give us a very general outline about what will happen to our characters during the season, but that’s it. Usually we get the script about a week or maybe two before we start shooting.
Sean Pertwee: Yea I think we got the script for the last episode we’re doing last night and we start shooting Thursday.
Q: So Jerome is the Joker right?
Sean Pertwee: No. That’s all I’m going to say.
David Mazouz: Everybody’s asking us but just watch the show. You’ll see. I said Jerome is not the Joker a little while ago, and I could say that because one of our producers said that about a month ago.
Q: Which character do you think has had the most character development since the beginning of the show?
David Mazouz: I’d say one of the biggest is the Riddler because he started as a good guy. Before I get into that though, the point of our show was that it is the story of how people that we can relate to and are just human beings can become legends and icons. That’s the point of the show so everybody should have a large character development because there are a lot of roads to travel to get from point A to point B and showing that journey is the point of the show. That and to show that anybody can be a legends and that anybody can turn into a villain or Batman and it depends on our choices. But the Riddler was really a slow and big character development that told the story of a character that was always put down and left out again and again and that’s a very realistic thing to happen to a character.
Sean Pertwee: Yea, I think that’s what our show is about. You don’t want to turn the person next to you into the next Riddler do you? The poor kid could only take so much before he snaps. It’s always been about the path you choose to take.
Q: How is it trying to explore all of the different sides of Bruce?
David Mazouz: It’s really cool, and I was talking to some fans today about how there’s been so many difference versions of Bruce over the course of the show. That’s sort of the point of the character because there is the Batman mask and the Bruce Wayne mask, and in Gotham, he kind of has like ten masks. He is always trying to be something else. “Party Bruce” has been so much fun lately.
Q: Would you guys ever be open to a Gotham movie?
Sean Pertwee: Yes. Of course. How cool would that be?
David Mazouz: I would love for it to be like a big episode of Gotham. I would love for it to be the actual transformation of these characters so the show would build up to it and then Bruce Wayne would become Batman and Selena Kyle would become Catwoman etc.
Q: For David, how did it change your life to play Bruce Wayne?
David Mazouz: It changed my life in a lot of ways. On a practical level, it changed my life because I had to move across the country and leave my school, family, and friends. On a personal level, it changed my life because I am a part of this batman mythos that I’ve known since I was born. Batman is literally everywhere. At least two or three times a day you see someone wearing a Batman backpack or Batman socks. He is so engrained in our culture and to be able to be a part of that is pretty amazing.
Q: For Sean, do you consider David a son to give advice?
Sean Pertwee: I take advice from him. The great thing about this business is that we’re not ageist, and I’ve been blessed to work with this young man. He’s been nothing but a joy and I’ve learned so much. He’s incredibly focused and annoyingly talented. But similarly I have a wife and a son, and I’ve spent more time with this young man than I have with my boy over the last four years. But working with him on set is the easiest thing in the world.
Q: What’s it like on the set with Jerome?
David Mazouz: It’s been great. I’ve been working with him a lot lately, and I learn so much about my craft with him, and he’s a very intense actor. He prepares so much for each scene and he knows his character and the plot inside and out and always comes on set knowing what he wants out of each scene.
Sean Pertwee: Yea he’s amazing and there are often choices that he makes that seem strange at first, but when you see it on screen, you’re like “Wow,” and he is really sort of a fearless actor.
Q: What parts of Bruce and Alfred over the years do you feel are fundamental to your interpretations?
Sean Pertwee: Well you sort of have to find your way and give your version their own heartbeat. I know for a fact that what I loved the ease with which Michael Keaton and Michael Gough worked together so I tried to embody that. I always try to find another angle.
David Mazouz: I think Brue’s intensity is something I learned very on that is crucial to the character. Over time, however, I learned about the constant pain that fuels everything that Batman does. All of this stems from a really deep vulnerability and pain that comes from his parent’s deaths when he is eleven or twelve years old. I think it gets confused a lot with anger. I thought that night bore a lot of anger that grew inside of him and beating bad guys up stemmed from anger, but it actually stems from pain and weakness.
Q: What villain are you most excited to work with on Gotham?
Sean Pertwee: There are so many. We need some more good guys really. I thought Hush would be a really interesting one actually.
David Mazouz: I am very much looking forward to seeing you guys see me working with the Joker.
You can see David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee in Gotham which airs Thursdays at 8:00 P.M. EST on FOX.